Gardening: Renewing rains key for healthy plants

Rodd Moesel advises readers on gardening and horticulture.
BY Rodd Moesel Published: April 8, 2013
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We are so grateful for the soaking and renewing rains we have received across Oklahoma this past week, especially since the refreshing rains were delivered without storms. This moisture is a great way to start spring and assures us a wonderful start to the season. Moisture is a key ingredient for happy and healthy plants and when combined with warmer temperatures, brighter sunlight and longer days it creates the spring effect where the whole world of nature appears to pop into life, full of green foliage and exciting flowers on many trees and plants. The flowering quince and forsythia have been joined by the ornamental crabapples and the enchanting pinks and reds of our state tree, the Redbud. This is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs in your yard or landscape.

Your shady areas can benefit from sowing seed of tall fescue or shady lawn grass seed mixes. If you want to control crabgrass or other weeds the easy way, before they germinate, get your weed and feed or pre-emergent herbicide applied at once. Every day you wait to apply your crabgrass “birth control” results in less control as more summer weed seeds start germinating every day. Products with “Dimension” will offer some control for two to three weeks after germination. You can do your first feeding on your lawn either with the weed and feed product or with an application of balanced lawn food or a targeted feeding if you have a recent soil test to use as a road map.

If you are vegetable gardening we have just completed the prime season for cool season vegetable planting and are just entering the season to plant warm season crops. Watch the weather and if you don't see any frosts in the forecast you can start planting plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. You can plant seeds of most beans, squash, sweet corn, and pumpkins. Please wait until around May 1 to plant the really hot blooded crops like sweet potato, watermelon, okra, southern peas and cantaloupe. Our last average freeze date in central Oklahoma is around April 10 but we have had the occasional freeze much later in the month so become a real Oklahoma gardener and watch the weather and be prepared to cover your more tender veggies if we are surprised with a late frost after you have started planting.